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Parents or Social Engineers? - Douglas Wilson     Reply to topic
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Camden Spiller
40, Vancouver, WA

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Posts: 2719
PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 05 12:28 pm Reply with quote Report this to the Response Team

Parents or Social Engineers?
by Douglas Wilson

Click here to read the full article

Use this forum to discuss your thoughts on this article.

MaryM
39, WY

Posts: 691
PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 05 9:22 pm Reply with quote Report this to the Response Team

I'm not very familiar with Douglas Wilson, so I'm not sure if he is actually against homeschooling in general, or just pointing out warnings and dangers.

Homeschooling in a way could be called a fad, but as far as I know, it has been a (perhaps small) presence all through (or most of) history, sometimes by necessity. However, is he thus saying that, granting public schools are a bad choice, that the focus should rather be on private/Christian/church schools?

Which brings up something I've been thinking about lately - idealistic goals versus realistic goals. Today's world is antagonistic if not totally incompatible with many conservative Christians' idealistic situations - for example, but not to argue, the political goals of, say, the libertarians would have immense difficulty being realized because the foundations and underlying assumptions of our modern culture is anti-thetical to those ideals, and thus a realization of those goals would require a major upheaval of our culture, which would be good, but I do not think can come about by focusing on the political agenda.

Yes, it is good in a way to be idealistic, but one must also be realistic.

And thus, I'll briefly state that, idealistically, private church-based Christian schools might be one of the best choices, but realistically speaking is not an option for most and will not be in the near future, and for those whom it is an option, is not necessarily a better option than homeschooling. One factor why this is true is that people are different today than they were in, say, George Washington's day. Not fundamentally, but there still is a distinct difference, mainly because of the disappearance of the undergirding Christian foundation of culture. Thus, I am less willing to trust others, even Christians, with my (future) children.

I do agree that parent should be careful in their homeschooling, and not just follow the latest fad, but always strive to do the best they can. However, children have the wonderful attribute of bouncing back and recovering well, so stating that they are, per se, injured for life, might be over-reacting, unless the parents have made a botched thing of it the whole way through, which I doubt is the case for most homeschoolers. But it appears as if he is calling homeschooling itself a fad.

Quote:
The first five years of a child's life are foundational. And if a child doesn't learn to read properly at the appropriate age, he will likely struggle with that problem for the rest of his life. The elementary years of a child's education are crucial—a host of prerequisites are established, without which a child will spend a good deal of the rest of his education in a state of bewilderment.


Yes, but! I know there are books out there that prove that late readers aren't at all handicapped. Also, what about adults who learn to read? How much inherent responsibility is Mr. Douglas trying to dump unnecessarily? (By this I mean, yes, education is "necessary", but let's not get all out of wack! If there's an adult who is not fully educated as we would consider so, are they thus less than human? No, so relax. This isn't a life and death situation.)

As far as "covenant schools"... can we call it Sunday School??? Laughing I understand he is getting at is yeshiva -- the school for Jewish boys where rabbis taught the Torah, the Talmud, Jewish law, and ethics. I'm sure they learned lots from their parents, too, though! Also, would like to point out that, not only were the mothers less educated, generally speaking, they also were much busier necessarily - everything was from scratch back then! Today (particularly in the Western world), women are comparatively well-educated and basic needs are easily provided for or procured.

Quote:
The modern experiment on the children must continue, and all in the name of what seemed like a good idea at the time.


WOW! Homeschooling seems to be a very successful "experiment", though... However, the alternative he offers, "covenent schools", are not very prevalent, so thus the "fad" must continue. And, I have a feeling that these covenant schools he speaks of I would be loath to send my children to, from serious disagreements in beliefs.

Quote:
The tragedy is that the results of what happens whenever unteachable people set themselves up as teachers is entirely predictable, and can plainly be seen twenty years later as their former pupils struggle with the simplest of tasks. And few things are more offensive than to see the old and proud rob the young and helpless.

Problem is, how do I know his solution will avoid this? May I timidly suggest IBLP/ATI as an example (not to attack, but most of you I think will agree in general) of a non-parent schooling (although used in homeschooling) that the pupils later stuggle with? His covenent schools may well have the same effect...

I know this is far from an exhaustive treatment, but I'm exhausted! I just wanted to awaken this forum and get discussion going.

AlysonB
38, Plumbfield in KC

Posts: 3105
PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 05 9:50 pm Reply with quote Report this to the Response Team

Good response and points Mary, I was wondering if anyone was ever going to post. I didn't want to do both Laughing ......That is similar to what I thought, when I read the article a while back. I never could get a feel for whether he was for or against homeschooling. I think the part about being realistic is true. I was in a christian school for a very short period (a few months) and I would probably not choose this as an option for my own future children, fad or no fad. I think some people may have started homeschooling, as being part of a fad. In fact my parents, in a small way, may have..........but the underlying and future benefits for us, far outweighed whether it was popular or not. One of the best parts about homeschool parents, is that they may not be just like teachers, but learning along side their children. Yet, that makes the environment more favorable for learning. Just a few of my thoughts. Hopefully other will post soon. Wink

MaryM
39, WY

Posts: 691
PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 05 10:09 pm Reply with quote Report this to the Response Team

Yes, I agree that alot of people, esp. recently, might have started to homeschool because of the fad status. My parents were one of the pioneers, though, so I didn't have any of that.
Both my parents have bachelors and (imho) are well-educated, but I realize this isn't true for all parents, so as you pointed out, yes, often the parents are learning alongside. In a school, this won't be true usually, even if they are well-educated, they obviously won't know everything but they sure won't want to admit that!

Andrew Plett
37, Vancouver, Washington

Posts: 1506
PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 05 11:39 pm Reply with quote Report this to the Response Team

I disagree with this on so many levels.

Quote:
But fads intrude wherever we go. Home schooling is not a necessary choice because schools as an institution are somehow "a Prussian invention from the nineteenth century designed to lead children into atheism." Rather, institutional schools have been used as an instrument of nurture by covenant parents since Ezra came back with the rest of the Jews from Babylon, and they have been used this way down to the present.

Just because schools have been in place for two millenia, doesn't mean they're necessarily good. Schools teach the controlling body's views rather than the parent's. You will naturally have allegiance to wherever you were taught. Schoolkids will be sympathetic to the government or church, while home-taught kids will have the family at the forefront.

Quote:
That is approximately two thousand five hundred years of covenant history, and leave it to American Christians to not know anything about it. We drink grape juice in communion services too.
This is really a slap in the face.

Quote:
Whenever there is a commitment to any ideological fad, the scriptural, historical, and educational facts do not matter anymore. The modern experiment on the children must continue, and all in the name of what seemed like a good idea at the time.
Homeschooling has NEVER been a fad. It is the original form of education, with a history, since creation, of over 6000 years. It is not an experiment, it is THE tried and true method of education. There is little basis for sending your kids to someone else for their education

Quote:
The tragedy is that the results of what happens whenever unteachable people set themselves up as teachers is entirely predictable, and can plainly be seen twenty years later as their former pupils struggle with the simplest of tasks.
This is a blatant lie. No one is unteachable, and the supposition that one must be well educated in order to educate someone well is a false one. Accordint to NHERI's Worldwide Guide to Homeschooling, there is no significant corellation between the parent's level of education and the child's academic achievement.

As an endnote, Douglas Wilson is a proponent of Christian Classical education. Thus, he advocate establishing classical schools in every community, rather than having people home educate their children. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm suspicious of people who hold up the pagan greek model as worthy of emulation, and then try to fit it to a Christian model.

The above statements and opinions are my own, and no one but myself is responsible for them.

AlysonB
38, Plumbfield in KC

Posts: 3105
PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 05 7:01 pm Reply with quote Report this to the Response Team

Eowyn (simplymerry) wrote:
Yes, I agree that alot of people, esp. recently, might have started to homeschool because of the fad status. My parents were one of the pioneers, though, so I didn't have any of that.
Both my parents have bachelors and (imho) are well-educated, but I realize this isn't true for all parents, so as you pointed out, yes, often the parents are learning alongside. In a school, this won't be true usually, even if they are well-educated, they obviously won't know everything but they sure won't want to admit that!


Mary, I guess I was kind of making a generalization there. Confused My parents were also considered pioneers way back when my older brother was younger. I guess what I was trying to say is I don't think their parents ever thought much about homeschooling, either yeah or nay, when my parents were growing up. But then when my parents heard about and saw others doing it and after researching it, they choose to jump on board. I think this is when people percieved it as being a new fad. Andrew I agree it has never been a fad. Well, after jumping on board, we never have gotten off the train and it has become a lifestyle for us, not a fad. Smile

Also, both my parents had B.S. Degrees including a Doctorate, so it is hard to defend what I was saying, except that I was relying on the examples I have seen of parents raising exceptional students, when they never had a day of college or other formal training in their life. Andrew, I liked the way you put it that no one is unteachable!

Maybe this will help make it clearer now Confused Glad you posted Andrew. I am also responsible for my own opinions here Wink

MaryM
39, WY

Posts: 691
PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 05 10:19 pm Reply with quote Report this to the Response Team

I didn't mean to say parents starting homeschooling because of the "fad" was bad!! Shocked Just I didn't have any first-hand experience about it, so couldn't say much.
Nor when I mentioned my parents' degrees was I saying that was necessarily better - just where I'm coming from.

Hanachiyo
,

Posts: 67
PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 05 9:28 pm Reply with quote Report this to the Response Team

Mr. Wilson was my teacher and pastor. I attended his church for roughly four years and spent many evenings in his home. My exroommate and my sister-in-law lived in his home. He is a quiet man, full of discipline, wit, and unmentioned charity.

He and Mrs. Wilson homeschooled their own children, and many of their friends (Doug Jones' family, Peter Leithart's family, etc, etc.) still partially do. The Wilsons also began an academically excellent gradeschool and highschool and college as their children increased in age.

This article is written in response to the idea that homeschooling is the only or the best way for educating Christian children. It is also written as a reaction to the social problems that occur when any group associates primarily with others like themselves for too long a period of time.

As for me,
I do not believe that 1000 years or 50,000 years from now, we should all be educating our children through Christian schools. However, neither do I believe that we should all be homeschooling. God's idea of perfection is found in diversity, and I think the future evolution of education will reflect that.
Not all parents are equipped to provide an excellent education to their children. Example: many homeschoolers (not all) are reputed for their laxity in the areas of math and science. Not all mothers are capable of tutoring their own children up to the calculus/physics/etc. level. This is not because they are stupid, but because their own educations did not take them thus far. Is it a bad idea for these mothers to send their older children, especially those aspiring to an advanced degree in Math/Science to private or public school for these classes?
Not all children are benefited to the highest degree possible academically or socially by homeschooling alone. Some people enjoy the classroom experience, the sports, the music opportunities available in a larger school setting. The idea that learning is best accomplished when I am left alone with my books (or my books and one other person) is an idea I held for a long time. I am happy to say I no longer hold it. I am glad I was homeschooled, because my mother was a good teacher; she taught me to read when I was three, trained me as a distance runner, and coached me in violin, as well as overseeing my academic life. However, I would be lying to say I did not miss out on anything by being homeschooled. I missed out on being in the highschool orchestra, the highschool crosscountry/track teams, as well as advanced foreign language, math, and science classes. All this to say--my mother was a very good teacher, but my education was in some important respects still deficient.
Many of these deficiencies could have been addressed by the presence of an excellent private school.

As for the idea of "classical" education, I recommend Dr. Peter Leithart's book Heroes of the City of Man. Since he and Mr. Wilson are close friends and colleagues, I would be willing to bet they hold similar views on this issue. Here is an excerpt:
"Throughout her history, the church's settled conviction has been that the devil has no stories. Satan is not creative but can only parody and ape and distort and misshape the true story. Even the stories that the devil appears to have are not properly his. Hesiod and Homer, Aeschylus and Aristophanes, as much as Moses and Samuel, are "for Christ." We must exercise great care and pray for wisdom in our study of this literature. We must never embrace enemies as true friends or treat "Greek wisdom" as sound and true. Yet, it is fully within the rights of Christians, to whom, in Christ, belong "all things" (1 Cor. 3:21-23), to plunder these stories and make what use of them we can. Because some treasures of Athens, purged with fire, may, like the gold of Egypt, finally adorn Jerusalem." (Heroes of the City of Man, 3Cool. Peter J. Leithart, Canon Press, Moscow, Idaho, 1999.

Hanachiyo
,

Posts: 67
PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 05 10:01 pm Reply with quote Report this to the Response Team

For Andrew Smile

I believe the word "unteachable" in Mr. Wilson's essay does not mean "unable to be taught," but, rather, "unwilling to be taught." At least, this is the sense in which my mother always used the word "unteachable" when applying it to her stiffnecked children.

I agree that the presence of schools for the last 2400 years of Christian history does not assure their goodness. However, I would also assume that the burden of proof, if one wishes to argue against their goodness, lies upon the one claiming that Christian schools are not good.

That homeschooling, in some sense, has been decreed by God, is evident. Mosaic law commanded God's people to teach their children His statutes. Some form of homeschooling, then, has been taking place for thousands of years. This, however, does not conflict with the statement that homeschooling in presentday American society is itself a fad (as is Classical Christian schooling). In our parents generation, private Protestant schools and homeschools seem to have been rare. In the present generation, even non-Christians are withdrawing from normal public schools in order to homeschool on their own or through charter schools.

As I see it, there appears to be some biblical basis for sending a child to another for education. We know Samuel, at least, was sent by his godly mother after being weaned to Eli for his education.

That allegiance will be formed where teaching takes place is an excellent observation. Homeschoolers are definitely more family oriented than others. However, to say that family loyalty should be placed over church loyalty does not seem to be in line with the theme of First John, Ruth, or many other books of the Bible that address love and loyalty. Our witness to the world is based in our loyalty to the body of Christ. Hence, devoted love for the Church, composed of Christians related not only by blood, is of utmost importance. In Scripture, loyalty to Christ and His body of believers is always placed over loyalty to blood family. Christ himself said , "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?" And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, "Behold, My mother and My brothers! "For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother an sister and mother." (Matthew 12:48-50 NASB)

Andrew Plett
37, Vancouver, Washington

Posts: 1506
PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 05 10:18 pm Reply with quote Report this to the Response Team

Hanachiyo wrote:
For Andrew Smile

First off, let me say, I wrote my post while angry, which I think we can agree is not the best state to be in while posting.

Hanachiyo wrote:
I believe the word "unteachable" in Mr. Wilson's essay does not mean "unable to be taught," but, rather, "unwilling to be taught."

Ah.

Hanachiyo wrote:
As I see it, there appears to be some biblical basis for sending a child to another for education. We know Samuel, at least, was sent by his godly mother after being weaned to Eli for his education.

Correct, but I do think that there is more basis for home education than other means in the Bible. Samuel was sent to be a priest, which was a special circumstance.

Hanachiyo wrote:
That allegiance will be formed where teaching takes place is an excellent observation. However, to say that family loyalty should be placed over church loyalty does not seem to be in line with the theme of First John, Ruth, or many other books of the Bible that address love and loyalty.
Yes, you're right. But a large portion of Christian Schools are tied to a specific denomination. How do you detirmine which one is the 'true' denomination?

Hanachiyo
,

Posts: 67
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 05 10:23 am Reply with quote Report this to the Response Team

Having attended church in various denominations, I do not believe there is one "true" denomination which constitutes the one true Church. I've been to Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Catholic, and non-denominational churches that all offered the Word of God, baptism, and communion. I spent many years in a Baptist church and have now spent several years in various Presbyterian type churches. I've found the Truth of God's Word, including the message of salvation, and just as importantly, the love of the brethren, in all of them.

Andrew Plett
37, Vancouver, Washington

Posts: 1506
PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 05 9:33 pm Reply with quote Report this to the Response Team

Sorry for neglecting to reply, Hanachiyo; I agree with you that there is no 'one' denomination that's right. My point was that, if every denomination has some error in their doctrine, would you want your child raised up in a church school where he is taught that that denomination's doctrine is the correct one?

"My chief concern is to try to be an humble, earnest Christian."
Robert E. Lee

Hanachiyo
,

Posts: 67
PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 05 5:01 pm Reply with quote Report this to the Response Team

No problem! No discussion goes on forever!
Yes, I would put my child in a Christian school Smile. I believe that all Christians see through a glass darkly and that love will outlive earthly knowledge. I assume the presence of theological error in myself and in any church I join. There's a cheesy saying that goes "There's no such thing as a perfect church and if there were, it wouldn't be any more after I joined it." For me to withdraw from fellowship with other practicing believers for purity's sake would be a horrible thing, firstly, because isolation fosters error in saints more than does community; and secondly, because the love of the brethren is just as important/more important than complete knowledge. And love must be acted out in word and deed.

The logic of withholding my children from being educated by other Christians based on the presence of minor errors in their training breaks down when I consider that I too am a human and full of errors. The errors I see clearly are in other people. The errors I am blind to are in myself. Therefore, communal education seems a wise idea because it allows me to point out a fellow-teacher's errors to my child and it allows a fellow- teacher to point out my own errors to me.

Andrew Plett
37, Vancouver, Washington

Posts: 1506
PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 05 5:14 pm Reply with quote Report this to the Response Team

I am not advocating separating oneself from the church at all. I agree completely with the 'there is no perfect church' quote.

My reason for not wanting to send my children to a Christian school was that differences between my family's doctrine and the school's doctrine might bring confusion on the part of the child. It sounds like you would take those differences and use them as a means of teaching your child. I know either method (homeschooling or Christian schooling) can work well; I guess it depends on how you like to do things.

Quote:
The logic of withholding my children from being educated by other Christians based on the presence of minor errors in their training breaks down when I consider that I too am a human and full of errors. The errors I see clearly are in other people. The errors I am blind to are in myself. Therefore, communal education seems a wise idea because it allows me to point out a fellow-teacher's errors to my child and it allows a fellow- teacher to point out my own errors to me.

Very, very good point!

JoshVV
38, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Posts: 2587
PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 05 9:52 pm Reply with quote Report this to the Response Team

Remember, the teacher has the kids for 6-7 peak learning hours out of the day... Will the parents be able to run "damage control" in the remaining time they have with the kids? Will the parents know everything they need to counter? I went to private Christian school and I can tell you it is very hard. Every school is different but when you send your kids to a school you are delegating your responsibility to teach them to that school. Proceed with caution! That's what I say. Wink

I'm gonna homeschool.

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